Why do L&D business cases fail?
To understand what business case success looks like, let’s first look at what failure looks like. Failure takes place when the business case:
1) Is not in line with strategic business objectives
2) Lacks recognition of what is important to the CEO and CFO
3) Requests spend without financial benefit projections
4) Uses HR and learning industry terminology that is a “different language”
These failures all have one thing in common: they all relate to an L&D-driven agenda and not a business-driven agenda. To develop a successful business case, you must consider how it is perceived and how it will impact the greater good of the organization.
Who can tell you how your business case is perceived and how it will impact the greater organizational good? No single stakeholder can. In fact, according to CEB, the average number of individuals involved with today’s buying decision is 5.4. This buying team will often have differing agendas. That means that in order to get a cloud-based learning business case approved, you’ll need to identify each of the buying team stakeholders and then secure their support by tailoring it to their specific priorities.
Four stages of a business case
Stage 1: Define the business issue
Stage 2: Analyze the alternatives and select the best option
Stage 3: Prepare the business case
Stage 4: Deliver the business case
Skipping or not fully addressing a stage will weaken a business case and reduce your approval probability. A great example of a successful business case and solution is PGA of America, an organization whose challenges were, primarily, heightening business development expertise of PGA members, helping members remain relevant with their clientele and developing a multigenerational audience consistently. Highly effective custom course curriculum, resources aligned to support certification and career objectives, and user-friendly experience that fosters continuous development.
The glaring challenge standing in the way of delivering a training initiative that could support growth was a very real generational gap. New members are roughly 30 years old when they join, with an average member age of 45 years. This means there is about a 50/50 split in membership, with half being more “tradition” oriented and the other half being more digitally-focused. In essence, PGA members consist of a multigenerational workforce where some members embrace technology and others don’t.
The results speak for themselves: an industry-wide initiative called Get Golf Ready yields $58 of benefit to the golf course for every $1 invested by the consumer and overall golf income increased $1,069 per participant.
“With a great partnership and careful blend of relevant content, technology, and clever program designs, you stand a better chance of engaging your labor force and improving their performance,” says Dawes Marlatt, Senior Director of Education & Employment, PGA America.
When all of the stages of a business case are skillfully executed, there’s big potential for a successful outcome.
Kieran King is Global Vice President, Loyalty Strategy at Skillsoft. Follow Kieran on Twitter, @kieranmking.